Web designers are creatives and artists at the core. They think in technical terms but have a creative side that inspires them to churn out new ideas and improve on the old ones.
It’s their job and duty to provide you with the much-needed direction and the process involved in setting your site up. In other words, every web project has a starting point – and that’s where web designing comes in.
First, the designing process is intended to help you clear out any confusion and distraction that might arise during the course of the project. This allows you to focus on the task of hand while executing your vision with the required efficiency and clarity.
The web designing process is super-complex and technical in itself. To understand it, you have to have an in-depth understanding of wireframes, content management, and some little bit of coding.
You have to understand that web designing covers so much more than coming up with slick visuals or integrating social media buttons to your site. It’s primarily focused on aligning your website needs with your comprehensive online strategy. In other words, the web designer you choose must be in a position to see the big picture and share in your vision.
What they offer covers a whole lot more than your site’s aesthetics. It’s their job to transform your vision into an online reality by coming up with a solid plan on how they can help you attract site’s visitors, while helping them understand your brand, products, and the company at large through a broad range of indicators in the gamut of visuals, interactions, and plain text.
That’s to say, every element they choose to incorporate into your website will be targeted towards a common goal as defined by you.
Even with this, there has to be a harmonious synthesis of all the elements you want to incorporate to your site, and the only way to achieve this is through a holistic web designing process that factors in both form and function.
It’s, for this reason, that majority of the web designers you know follow a seven-stage process, covered below, whenever they’re assigned a web project.
The 7 Stage Web Designing Process:
Stage 1: Goal Identification
This is the first step of the web designing process and it basically entails working with your client to determine their goals or the intended purpose of the web project in general.
During this stage, the designer is expected to engage the client for a protracted stretch of time as they get to understand their need.
Essentially, the designer will be focused on getting to identify the end goals of the client in question, either through working with the client in some sort of collaboration, asking a series of relevant question or by simply consulting other stakeholders.
At this stage, the designer is allowed to ask you a string of questions in the lines of:
. – What’s the target audience for the web project?
. – What does the target audience expect to find in the site upon loading it up?
. – What’s the primary aim of the site? Is it to sell, amuse or inform?
. – Is the website intended to convey a specific brand message or is it part of a much broader branding strategy focused on one particular area?
. – Does the industry you’re in have any competitors? If so, list their sites? Also, do these sites inspire you in any way or how do you intend to take an entirely different approach from them to stand out.
It’s worth noting that the Goal Identification Stage is the most important segment of the designing process. It’s what helps the designer formulate a mental plan on how to tackle the project at hand and bring it to life.
Meaning all the questions the designer asks must be answered more clearly and briefly, otherwise, there’s the risk of the project setting off in the wrong direction.
While at it, it’s crucial for their designer to consider listing down all the goals or drafting a paragraph or two to summarize all the goals up. This is what they’ll be using to stay on track, making sure they never miss on anything important once they get down to work on the project.
In brief, it starts with the designer fully understanding the target audience, the client’s goals and vision, as well as the competition surrounding the project.
At this stage, the designer is expected to have a list of tools that will be coming in handy while handling the project, unless otherwise. This includes:
. – Creative brief
. – Audience Personas
. – Brand Attributes
. – Competitor Analyses
Stage 2: Scope Definition
One of the most threatening problems that are likely to affect your web designing project is scope creep. What happens is that the client sets up a goal in their mind, but as their project expands, the goal evolves, drastically changing with the designing process. It starts with you working on designing a web portal for their projects, then somewhere along the way something happens and you find yourself working on a web app, or emails and push notifications.
This isn’t much of a problem to a designer, but it could be translated to mean more work for you. Worse it’s when the adjusted expectations fail to match the client’s budget and timeline, thus forcing the project to be somewhat unrealistic.
The problem can, however, be prevented through a simple adoption of a Grant chart, which helps to keep your workflow both organized and well-structured.
Designed to make it easy for you to collaborate with your clients and other concerned stakeholders while keeping them in the loop every step of the way, the chart will be helping you establish clear expectations right from the outset. It’s also meant to help you avoid wasting a lot of time scheduling as it features all the typical web designing tasks to follow.
The Tools You Need for this Stage of the Web Designing Process are:
. – A Grant Chart
. – A Contract for Your clients to Sign
Stage 3: Sitemap and Wireframe Creation
As the name suggests, a sitemap is meant to give you a road map of the web designing project you’re working on. It’s designed to give you a clear idea of the site’s architecture based on the information you have. Also, it’s what you’ll be using to establish a relationship between your web pages and the various content elements you’re planning to incorporate into your web project.
Think of a sitemap as a blueprint to your web project. Without it, there’s a near zero possibility that your project will turn out well.
Once you’ve succeeded in building a sitemap, the next thing you’d want to create is a wireframe. Essentially, this is what provides the much-needed framework for storing the content elements and the site’s visual. It’s also meant to help you identify possible challenges you’re likely to encounter along the way, together with filling up the remaining gaps in the sitemap you created.
A wireframe won’t be featuring the final design elements. Instead, it gets to act as a guide that will be determining the ultimate look of your project.
You’re NOT limited as to what you can use to create a wireframe for your projects. First, you have the options of using slick wireframe creating tools such as Webflow or Balsamiq. Or you could decide to take an old school approach by simply adopting a trusty ole paper and pencil.
The Tools You’ll Need for this Stage of the Web designing process:
. – A pencil and Paper
. – Axure
. – Balsamiq
. – Web Flow
. – Writemaps
. – Mindnode
. – Sketch
. – Moqups
. – Slickplan
Stage 4: Content Creation
Once you’re done with creating a wireframe for your project, the next most logical thing to do would be to consider creating the content for it.
This is basically meant to serve two critical purposes:
. – Engagement and Getting Your Site’s Visitors to Take Action
To drive your site’s visitors into taking action through the type of content you publish on your site. This is your ultimate goal and one you’d want to prioritize on while working on your project design.
How your site’s visitors get to engage with your content will be affected by the content itself and how you present it. Goes to dictate the typography you’ll use and a series of other structural elements that can either make or break how your online users get to interact with your content.
Whatever you do, it’s important to avoid creating dull and lifeless proses. Instead, try to keep the content short, a little bit snappy, and more intriguing so your site’s visitors can keep coming back for more of the content or be enticed enough to take action and consider checking out the other pages.
This still applies even in situations where your web pages will be needing a lot of content. Try to chunk-out the content into short paragraphs, separated by h1 and h2 title tags, and supplemented by great visuals that work to keep it light and more engaging.
. – SEO
The content you create is also targeted to boost your visibility in the SERPs. You want your site to rank up that well in the search engines, so why NOT try to optimize it for a list of keywords and secure a prime ranking.
It starts with you coming up with the right set of keywords and phrases to use on your website. You could use Google Keyword Planner or any other keyword scrapping and researching tool you know.
However, with Google keyword planner, you have the benefit of being walked through the search volume of all the potential target phrases and keywords.
Suffice it to say, that this stage of the designing process demands that you dedicate an ample amount of your time to coming up with a solid content marketing strategy that will be dictating how you structure your site’s content, unless otherwise.
Content Creation Tools You’ll Need
. – Google Keyword Planner
. – Google Trends
. – Google Docs
. – Gather Content
. – Quip
. – Dropbox Paper
Stage 5: Your Site’s Visuals
Now, this is the part where you handle every aspect of your site’s visuals. The designing process to embark on at this stage will be shaped by the existing brand elements including color choices, logos, and branding elements – as laid out by the underlying client.
This is also the stage where you get to showcase your prowess and make your work shine.
Images have a more significant role to play for this stage. As a web designer looking to do a bang-on job for your client and exceed their expectations, you’d want to make sure that you’re only using quality images that will be working to give your site a more professional look and feel. Also, the images you choose must be able to communicate the intended message without confusing your target audience.
But even more importantly, the images must be able to adjust for mobile responsiveness, thus allowing your site to align with the standard search engine policy for mobile.
Great visuals will help you boost clicks, better your engagement, and in the end, generate an even better revenue stream for you.
Your visitors also expect your site content to be accompanied by great visuals. In which case, not only will the images make your content easier to digest, they’ll also be enhancing the messages you convey through texts. In some incidences, the images can even be enough to drive the main message home, without forcing your readers to read through the text content provided.
Tools for Creating Visual Content
. – Standard Web Designing tools such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and Sketch.
. – Style tiles, Mood boards, and element collages
. – Visual style guides
Stage 6: Test
The next thing you do after integrating great visuals to your design is to test out all the elements.
Go through the pages, one by one, testing them out to find out if they’re loading just fine in all devices. You may also want to find out if all the links are working or if you made a coding mistake that’s resulting in an error on the user’s end.
The point is to make sure that everything is working just fine before you can go ahead and launch your site.
Web Testing Tools to Use
. – SEO Spider
. – WC3 Link Center
Stage 7: Launch
At this point, you’re allowed to go ahead and launch your site. Keep in mind that the site doesn’t have to be perfect when you launch it, as you may still have a series of other elements that need fixing.
Suffice it to say, web designing is a continuous process that you’ll keep working on and improving until you’re finally able to convert that first draft into a perfect piece of work that’s in total sync with your goals and mission.
Let’s wrap it up
This post sums up all the seven stages of a solid web designing process. It bears repeating that there’ll always be room to work on your project and improve on it for an even better site that snugly matches your dream and visions.
It’s also crucial to let your actions be goaded by the manner at which people navigate through your website and their experience with it.
For help regarding a web designing project or clarification on any of the points above, you’re kindly requested to contact MediaOne today with your query.